The Gallup Poll
When Gallup conducts a national opinion poll, the starting place is where all or most Americans are equally likely to be found. That place is in their home, which is the starting place for nearly all national polling. The actual target audiences, referred to as "national adults", are aged 18 and over, living in telephone households within the United States. What I don't understand is that Gallup excludes college students living on campus, armed forces living on military bases, prisoners, hospitalized people, and anyone else who is living institutionalized. I think these exclusions are unfair. The article explains that the reasoning for not including the people who live in the places mentioned above is because of the difficulty in reaching the institutionalized population. The article claims that this compromise is necessary, but I think they are over-looking people that have every right and to participate in a sampling of American "national adults".
The main objective of the Gallup Poll is to give every American household, and every American an equal chance of falling into the sample. Since nearly 95% of all households have a telephone these days, surveys are conducted by telephone. This makes a lot more sense and is more convenient than having to go door to door to interview people as they did in the past. I couldn't even imagine how annoying that would be.
Now, I find that the design method used to sample the Gallup Poll's target population randomly is very interesting, and seems very effective in ensuring that the sample is absolutely random. They start with a computerized list of all telephone exchanges in America, as well as with estimates of residential households these exchanges have connected to them. A process named random digit dialing (RDD) is used, where a computer creates phone numbers from the exchanges, then generates samples of telephone numbers from those. What this means is that this process creates a list...
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